Biotech Updates

Limited Release of Herbicide-Resistant Sugarcane in Australia

November 13, 2009

Australia's Gene Technology Regulator has approved the application submitted by BSES Limited for the limited release of 6,000 lines of genetically modified sugarcane. The sugar cane lines have been modified for herbicide tolerance. According to the papers released by the Regulator, BSES will release "three categories of GM sugarcane with two herbicide tolerance genes, two marker genes (nptII and bla) and a reporter gene." Details of the genetic modification, including the identities of the genes and regulatory sequences that confer herbicide tolerance, have been declared Confidential Commercial Information (CCI) under the country's Gene Technology Act.

The purpose of the trial, which will take place in six Queensland shires from 2009-2015, is to evaluate the agronomic properties of the GM sugarcane lines grown under field conditions. The GM sugar cane lines will not be used for human food and animal feed.

According to a risk assessment plan prepared by the regulator, the planned release poses negligible risks to people and the environment. BSES is bound to adopt certain measures to prevent escape of GM materials into the environment.

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